“The Ghetto at Florence” has frequently been labeled a watershed in fin-de-siècle Anglo-Jewish writer Amy Levy’s career and symbolic of conscious reengagement with her Jewish heritage. The extant historiography regards this article as a reawakening of Levy’s ancestral legacy that had previously been suppressed by her assimilation of secular and Christian perspectives. In this alternative reading of Levy’s corpus, we will see how even prior to publishing “The Ghetto of Florence” in 1886, Levy had already developed and experimented with classically Jewish themes including Midrash and that her work was profoundly inflected by early German Reform Judaism, its morally selective approach to the tradition, and its commitment to subjective theology, to a degree as yet unacknowledged by the current historiography. Moreover, we will see that Levy’s groundbreaking midrashic poetry constitutes a proto-feminist, eisegetical biblical and theological genre that prefigures Second-Wave Jewish feminism’s earliest hermeneutical efforts by nearly one hundred years.


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